Flooding in Slovenia leaves six dead

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Six people are confirmed dead after Tuesday's heavy rains in Slovenia. Up to 300 mm of rain fell in just a few hours across the country, with swollen rivers, torrential streams and landslides sweeping away cars, houses, bridges, and whole sections of roads. In some areas, public services have not yet been restored, and healthcare and drinking water are being provided by mobile units. Some major roads are still closed. The damage includes the destruction of the resistance Hospital Franja, a museum site from the Second World war.

Worst hit was the valley town of Železniki, where three people died, 350 houses were flooded and over a hundred cars were swept away by the swollen river Sora. The dead included a woman who was swept away by the river in her car. The local health facilities and the elementary school are closed. Road communication to several surrounding villages was cut off by landslides. The flood also badly damaged local industry. The lower-lying town of Škofja Loka was also badly hit by the flood. A 31-year-old volunteer fire fighter was killed during the rescue effort in Cerklje.

Other badly affected areas include those along the rivers Sava, Savinja and Dravinja. All three rivers and many of their tributaries overflowed and flooded fields and towns. The low-lying parts of Celje, Laško and Nazarje were flooded by up to 2 meters of water. A 34-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman were killed in Podgorje near Braslovče when their house was buried in a landslide. Two older people managed to leave the house unharmed.

Damage was widespread across the country and many roads were blocked by landslides. Velenje was cut off from the world for more than a day. The main road connecting the mountainous Bohinj valley to the central part of the country was closed, leaving only the mountain road to Tolmin.

Near the town of Cerkno, which was itself flooded, the museum site of Hospital Franja was nearly completely destroyed. The partisan resistance hospital from the Second World War, situated in a narrow mountain canyon above the town and named after the young doctor who worked at the site, treated hundreds of wounded resistance fighters and remained undiscovered by the Wehrmacht throughout the war. The hospital consisted of 12 wooden cabins and a miniature hydroelectric power plant. The power plant and all but one of the wooden cabins and were swept away by the swollen stream. Hundreds of exhibits, including medicine containers, locally produced medical equipment and an x-ray machine were lost or badly damaged.

The government of Slovenia directed €500,000 from the emergency fund to immediate rescue and repair operations, and has promised to help the affected municipalities and population with funds from the budget. The government has also pledged to rebuild the Hospital Franja museum site.


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